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The Roundup for December 26th, 2013

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Hello everyone, hope your holidays went well.

International Developments

Overall

– Pew: Six global challenges for 2014

– Understanding the situation in Syrian and Egypt

– “Al-Qaida kidnappers in Pakistan have released a video of a captured American consultant, looking frail and appealing for help from Barack Obama.”

– “Icebound ship awaits Antarctic rescue

Middle East

– David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker, states Zionism is a historical mistake and Israel’s nuclear deception is a “ridiculous scam.

– Natasha Lennard: “U.S. quietly rushes missiles, drones to Iraq

– “Israel lobby launches fierce counterattack against American Studies Association

– “Residents of a blockaded rebel-held town near Damascus raised the flag used by the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad in a deal that sees them accept symbolic humiliation in exchange for food, activists said on Thursday.

– Who can be the leader of the Middle East in 2013?

– “A camp of Iranian dissidents in the Iraqi capital was hit by rockets on Thursday in an attack the group said killed at least two people and seriously wounded several others.

– Russian scientists: Yassar Arafat was not poisoned

– Imran Khan, chief of Pakistan’s Tahrik-i-Insaf (PTI): I will continue to work against drone strikes until they stop

– “Pakistan on Thursday condemned the US drone strike that killed at least four suspected militants in North Waziristan last night, saying such attacks were a violation of the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

– Sartaj Aziz, an adviser to the Pakistani Prime Minister on issues relating to national security: We want good relations with all of our neighbors 

– “Why Iran Is the Country to Watch in 2014

– Now a polio epidemic is reaching Syria

– Quick call the “War on Christmas” folk! “The speaker of Israel’s parliament says he refused to display a Christmas tree in the building because of the “painful memories” it evoked among Jews.

Asia and Oceania

– “Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, has made a visit to a controversial war shrine in Tokyo, prompting a furious response from China and concern in the US.

– Why do defectors from North Korea go back?

– “Thailand’s election commission has called for upcoming polls to be delayed as street battles between security forces and protesters seeking to disrupt the ballot left one police officer dead and injured nearly 100 people.

– A bomb blast has killed five people in India, in addition to wounding six

– “Bangladesh deploys army to help handle Jan. 5 vote

– China is marking Mao’s birthday with a controlled tribute

– “Philippine rebels vow to build 25,000-strong force

Africa

– “Assailants armed with heavy weapons attempted late Thursday to attack the presidential palace as well as the residence of the Central African Republic’s embattled leader, but were pushed back, officials said.

– A Libyan army officer has been killed in drive-by shooting in Benghazi

– Gunmen in Libya have blocked entrance to both the central bank and Tripoli port

– “Dozens of people have been killed, including six peacekeepers from Chad, in the latest violence in the Central African Republic, officials say.

At least 40 civilians in the eastern part of the DR Congo have been killed and a few wounded by rebels

– “Egypt increased pressure on the Muslim Brotherhood on Thursday, detaining dozens of its supporters on suspicion of belonging to a terrorist organization the day after it was declared one by the government, security officials said.

– Leaders within Africa are hopeful peace can be brought to South Sudan

– “One person was killed on Thursday when student supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood clashed with residents of a Cairo district where they were protesting, the Interior Ministry said in a statement. ”

– U.S. to South Sudan: We will cut off aid if your government falls

– “Congolese, UN take back town from Ugandan rebels

“The U.N. special representative to South Sudan says she expects some military reinforcements and critically needed equipment to arrive in 48 hours to strengthen efforts to protect more than 50,000 civilians seeking refuge at U.N. bases.

– “Morocco dismantles terror cell in several cities

Europe

– Andras Schiff, one of the world’s greatest pianist: I won’t perform in my homeland of Hungary

– “Ukrainian activist-journalist Tetyana Chernovil in intensive care after beating

– “Ukraine’s president is warning defiant western regions of the country, which have openly supported anti-government protests of recent weeks.

– Russia gives exit visas to seven members of Arctic 30, others expected

– “After a decade of dominance over Turkey’s political scene, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan appears to have been thrown off balance by a rapidly expanding corruption scandal that has brought down members of his cabinet and strained ties to the U.S.

– “Protesting Turkish prosecutor piles pressure on PM

– Russia hopes to revive its space program

– Finance Minister in Spain plans to cut taxes for low-income folk

Latin America, Caribbean and Canada 

Exponential bicycle use in Latin America

– Venezuelan Violence Observatory: Violence in Venezuela has risen in 2013 and quadrupled since 1998

– “Army helps flood victims in southeastern Brazil

– In Argentina, 70 people were injured by palometas, a type of piranha fish

Surveillance Planet

– UN human rights chief Navi Pillay: The outrage against surveillance is the same as the outrage against apartheid. Our privacy is a human right.

– “When Privacy is Treason

A new bill in the Senate could protect government whistleblowers and close national security loophole on employee appeals

– “The NSA Paid to Steal Your Private Data

– Juan Cole: “Snowden’s Christmas Message on Privacy: Does NSA threaten 9th, 14th Amendments, ‘Inviolate Personality’?

Six states out of 24 will be chosen by the FAA to host drone test sites and the billions that follow

– “Security professionals withdraw from tech conference after NSA revelations”

– Glenn Greenwald on MSNBC: I defend Snowden like you defend Obama 24 hours a day

– Emptywheel: “Coincidental Timing in NSA’s Telecom Switch Collection

Financial Matters

– Gallup:  Four in 10 young adults worldwide have a bank account

– As jobless claims fall, retail shopping during the holiday increases

– “Your Terrifying Retirement Future: Why Millions Risk Sliding Into Poverty As They Age

– Regarding Bitcoin and its dangers

– “As part of plans to bring an end to electricity outages, Libya is looking to lay an underwater electricity cable to Sicily and link up with the Italian national grid.

Map where those who gain jobless benefits will be hardest hit

Unemployment rises in France

– Economic Policy Institute: “How to Fix the Economy in 13 Easy Charts

Labor’s a-Brewing

– “Several thousand garment workers pressing for higher wages joined opposition activists in protests in Cambodia’s capital on Thursday, adding to pressure on Prime Minister Hun Sen.

– Natasha Lennard: “McDonald’s embarrassment on employee resource site

– “Lufthansa workers angry over staffing shortages abruptly walked off the job at the main Paris airport Thursday, prompting flight cancellations and bringing a new headache to holiday travel.

Politics USA

Washington USA

– Obama has signed the budget deal into effect as well as the defense bill

– “A month after President Barack Obama announced people could keep insurance policies slated for cancellation under the federal health overhaul, the reversal has gotten a mixed response from insurers, state regulators and consumers.

– Pew: 63 percent of the LGBT community view Obama administration as friendly

– When Congress gets back from vacation, more hunger and pain will be found in the U.S.

– “For Christmas, Vermont and Massachusetts are giving a lump of coal to CGI Federal, the Canadian company that built Healthcare.gov and seven other state-based health care exchanges.

– Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) calls to block immigration reform in order to help Republicans

– “Why the Tea Party Isn’t Going Anywhere

– Utah will appeal same-sex ruling to the Supreme Court

Everything Else USA 

– AP/Times Square Poll: Americans are hopeful for next year. More here.

– Gallup: 53 percent of adults with children under 18 hold dinners together

– Rania Khalek: “Black Man Charged With Attempted Murder of Officers Who Nearly Killed Him Says He Was Unarmed

– The 10 “appalling” failures of the justice system this year

– “Police Use Tear Gas on Protesters Following Teen’s Death in Custody

How would the U.S. be if libertarians had their way?

– Detroit is offering free housing for writers. More here.

– CBS News’ John Miller — who covered the NSA on 60 Minutes a few weeks ago — is officially rejoining the NYPD

On the socialist origins of the Pledge of Allegiance

– “The only Roman Catholic church official jailed in the U.S. in the sex abuse scandals of recent years has been freed by an appeals court, which reversed his child endangerment conviction Thursday.

– Socialism in the U.S. — Then and Now

– “Outgoing New York City police commissioner Ray Kelly has lauded his officers and his policies for reducing crime and protecting the city from terrorist attacks – while brushing off fierce controversy over the huge increase in the use of stop-and-frisk measures on his watch.

– An analysis of the NYC election and overall limits of electoral politics

We Don’t Need No Education

– “Why Charter Schools Are Foolish Investments for States Facing Economic Challenges

– “Calif. schools prepare for transgender rights law

Top Gun (Stories)

– The file on Newtown by police will soon be released

Health, Hunger and Homelessness

– Correcting myths on cannabis

– Study: Acupuncture just gives you a placebo effect, it’s pseudo-science

– On the battle with e-cigarettes

– “Vets return to streets to reach the homeless

The Second Sex

– Wendy Davis: Why I stood up for for Texas women and abortion rights

– “Judge Who Said Rape Victim Was ‘In Control’ Sentences Abusive Boyfriend to Write ‘Boys Don’t Hit Girls’

Planet Earth

– “Looming Danger of Abrupt Climate Change

– Erin Brockovich on top 10 environmental disasters in California

– “Dirtiest Oil: Why In Situ Bitumen Extraction Is Dangerous for Canada, the World

– “If Wolves Were as Cute as Pandas, Would We Be Killing Them for Fun?

Tens of thousands of civilians still without power in U.S. and Canada

– “Realizations From Killing and Eating an Animal We Raised Ourselves

– Reflecting on climate change this year

– Dima Litvinov, one of the freed Arctic 30: Russia owes me a medal for trying to save its environment

Mixed Bag

– Pew: 73 percent of Americans believe Jesus’ birth was from a virgin, including one-third of non-religious adults

– “Queen Finally Pardons the ‘Father of Computer Science’ Convicted For Homosexuality

– “The Real Secret to Happiness

– Michael Pollan on the intelligence of plants

– “Bread and Puppet Theater: 50 Years of Art and Resistance

The world’s hottest pepper is grown in South Carolina

– “Bye bye, bile? Websites try to nix nasty comments”

Break Time

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Brandon Jordan

Brandon Jordan

Brandon Jordan is a freelance journalist in Queens, NY and written for publications such as The Nation, In These Times, Truthout and more.

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